Meet this week’s vegetables: (veggies may differ in Newberg!)
- Summer squash — This is definitely just the first picking of this summer’s squash, and we know it won’t be enough for everyone — BUT it was a stupendous first picking, and the plants look beautifully healthy. So, we are excited about starting what promises to be a good year for squash and zucchini! There should just be more and more until we are all wondering how to ever eat all of these squash!
- Strawberries — The strawberries continue to produce! We have two varieties in our patch, and the second one, Totem (our favorite of the two) has come on. We are so enjoying having strawberries of our own to eat this year!
- Fava beans — Have you fallen in love with fava beans yet? If not, this is the season to take the newsletter message to heart and “try again” (and then “try again and again”). Why? Because we have a ton, and they are just about perfect. So, take a lot home and give them another try! I’ve included some more cooking tips and recipes in this week’s newsletter.
- Salad mix
- Head lettuce
- Garlic scapes
- Green garlic
Casey suggested that I could title this week’s newsletter, “try again!” My response was that I could probably title every week’s newsletter that way and it would be appropriate to our life here on the farm. We experience seemingly endless stumbles on our way to getting through the season — fortunately for you all, we do keep trying again, and success comes sooner or later.
But, I imagine the reason he brought up this week in particular is because it’s one of Rusty’s new favorite phrases. I can’t remember exactly when he first learned it — perhaps when one of us was coaxing him through a challenging moment of his own or perhaps when one of us was coaxing ourselves through a challenging moment!
Either way, Rusty now understands the concept well enough to apply it on his own in appropriate context. For example, last week when our cultivating tractor stopped running, Rusty joined Casey and Jesse as they attempted to fix it. As each new tactic didn’t quite resolve the problem, Rusty joyfully announced, “Try again!” And, eventually, through several trials, the tractor was up and running again, proving Rusty’s point — you do just have to keep trying again sometimes!
As his mama, this little phrase makes me ridiculously happy. I told a friend recently that I feel like my job is done; Rusty has figured out the secret to life. Ok, so there are a few more things to help him learn, but hopefully this early lesson sticks.
I have no doubt that it will since he will grow up immersed in an environment full of such learning opportunities. I’m so grateful that Rusty will grow up witnessing our many trials, errors, and mistakes.
In fact, he already does, and Casey and I joyfully join him in acknowledging when “Mama/Papa wrong!” Because, yes, we are wrong sometimes. Or just mistaken. Or making decisions without all the information (which can often only be available in retrospect!). Fortunately Rusty has also developed a democratic sense of when someone is wrong and will equally joyfully point out when he was using the wrong puzzle piece.
Rusty probably won’t appreciate these yet, but I thought I’d point out a few more instances on the farm this week when Casey and I were “wrong” or had to “try again” or just needed to redirect our own decisions as we better understood the situation:
The major series of “oops” came from working with a custom harvester to make “baleage” (wrapped bales of green chopped silage) on our new land. We’ve never had animal feed made before, let alone on this scale. So, we weren’t as conscientious about checking weather reports as we will be in the future, and the night after we had them cut over twenty acres of beautiful oats and clover, it all got rained on. Casey and I were up several hours that night, listening to the steady rain and googling “rain on baleage quality.” The answers we got were disheartening.
Of course, the morning sun always brings hope, and as we investigated further with local farmers and looked at the forage on the ground, we changed our mind again — with a few days to dry out, it looked like we could have good baleage after all.
On Friday afternoon, the tractor came out to chop and bale, and we were excited! Until we started seeing how many bales were coming out — so many! Quick calculations showed that we probably had them cut twice as much oat baleage as we would need by any stretch of the imagination. So, we stewed a little, calculated the possible price of the higher yields (way over budget), and then finally Casey ran out to the tractor driver at ten at night and asked him if he could just stop where he was and finish the clover instead (a small section of ground). Fortunately, they were totally open to the change and shifted course, and we saved ourselves about two thousands dollars in the process. And, we still have a lot of baleage!
Then, we had to figure out what to do with the “windrows” of oats left on the ground — these are strips of cut forage formed by the swather before chopping. Windrows are useful for chopping, but if left in place they will create a very uneven fertility situation in the field and will choke out any regrowth underneath the windrow for years (picture giant lines of dense straw running all over our field). Even though we were relieved to save the expense of the bales, we couldn’t just leave them in place.
So, we tried mowing with our flail mower. Nope. We tried disking them. Nope. They didn’t budge. We knew exactly what tool we needed to spread the oats out evenly (and randomly) across the whole surface of the field. It’s called a “tedder” (used in making hay), and we definitely don’t own one, but we were pretty sure John Heiser (of the famous pumpkin patch) does, so we gave him a call. Hoorah for friendly neighbors with implements that will fit our “little” tractor (little only by big ag standards)! By late afternoon on Sunday, Casey had the oats spread out evenly across the field!
I’m sure there will be more opportunities for us to say “oops” and “try again” with animal feed — the animals in general have provided many so far. (There was another incident this week involving powering our new milk machine, which resulted in a few hundred dollars spent on electrical equipment we won’t be using — anybody need an inverter?)
So, after all this celebration of making mistakes, I will own up: it still feels yucky. Not as yucky as it did when we started the farm in 2006, but it’s certainly painful to lose time, money, and energy on a misdirected project. Those moments when Casey and I are up in the middle of the night second guessing big (expensive) decisions are especially rough.
But there’s no doubt that working through those moments has been the secret to our farm’s success so far. In fact, my mom recently quipped: “Casey has already made more mistakes than the number of total decisions most people make in their entire life.” I totally understood what she meant and just laughed with recognition.
So, what do you need to “try again” this week? Perhaps your culinary relationship with fava beans? Give it a go! And then come out to our open house this Sunday to visit all of the happy results of our many (fixed) mistakes!
Enjoy this week’s vegetables!
Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla
… and the rest of the farm crew!
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Time to learn to love fava beans!!!!
If you want the classic experience, yes you will need to take time to shuck and peel the beans. I’m finding that this doesn’t take as much time as it used to, because I no longer blanch the beans to peel them. Instead I shuck (or, honestly, have Rusty shuck) the beans and then just peel off that outer skin with my fingernail.
Once I have a little bowl full of those beautiful tender green beans, I prefer a very simple cooking method — sautéed in butter in a pan until slightly crisp. I usually add onion of some kind — diced garlic scapes are a delicious combination. The fava beans will develop an out-of-this-world nutty flavor with this preparation method. Once cooked, you can toss them with a pasta dish, serve over a salad or as a side/topping/garnish to any dish.
But you don’t want to even do that much work? Time to try roasting them whole. Toss liberally with oil and spread out in an even, thin layer on a baking sheet or pan (no overlapping the beans!!!!). Roast at 425° for about 20 minutes, turning once, until the beans are browned on both sides. For best results, remove the cooked beans from the pan and transfer to a paper towel lined plate or cooling rack so that the skin can get slightly crisp. To be honest, eating these things is pretty barbaric feeling — you really do have to pick up the whole pod and give it a good bite. If you prefer, you can eat it like edamame and remove the beans at the table.
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CSA open house this weekend!
Sunday, June 24, 3-5 pm ~ Please RSVP!
The first open house of the year is looking to be an exciting one. Here’s the plan: we’re going to direct you to our new land so that you can see all that we have going on there. You can gather anytime between 3 and 5 pm, but Farmer Casey is going to give a guided farm tour starting at 3:30 pm — try to make it for this, because there is lots to see and share!
The rest of the time can be spent hobnobbing and enjoying freshly made strawberry ice cream and other seasonal refreshments. So we know approximately how much ice cream to make, we ask that you RSVP at pick-up (just put your name on the list you’ll find there over the next few weeks).
Directions to the new land: Take the Dayton exit from HWY-18. Drive straight through Dayton and stay heading south (toward Salem) on HWY-221/Wallace Rd for about seven miles. Turn LEFT onto Grand Island Rd. Go across the big bridge onto the island and then drive straight through the 4-way intersection and go across another very small bridge. Immediately after the small bridge, turn RIGHT onto an unmarked gravel road (we will put out a sign or marker). Drive to the very end of the gravel road until you see parking on the left. Welcome!
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Next week’s vegetables (probably!): Strawberries • Fava beans • Beet greens • Spinach • Head lettuce • Salad mix • Kale • Chard • Garlic